Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Physics of Hurricane Irene

A hurricane is a wonderful example of physics in action, despite being a natural disaster. In a hurricane you have the physics that is involved with motion (both rotational and translational), pressure, fluid dynamics, and probably much more. As weather predictors try to figure out what went wrong with their predictions for Irene (or other storms), physics becomes incredibly important.

Of particular relevance to what we are learning in Physics 111 this week (displacement, velocity, acceleration) is the wind speed on the ground at different locations in the hurricane. The article explains how with Hurricane Irene traveling north, those on the northeast side of the storm were getting the highest wind speeds (wind speed+ Irene’s speed) while those on the southwest will get the lowest wind speeds (wind speed-Irene’s speed). This worked out for the East Coast because the windier side was mainly off-shore.

The article also discusses the physics behind storm surges – the pressure on the water decreases at the eye of the storm causing the water to rise higher than the water outside the hurricane, creating a wall of water.

The link to the article (and the picture below) is:

A pretty cool link to a video showing satellite imagery of Irene can be found here:

Physics and the Art of Cooking

Nathan Myhrvold, a master French chef, nature and wildlife photographer, and computational genius (started college at the age of 13 and got a PhD by 23!) recently co-wrote a cookbook showing the Physics in cooking. Myhrvold and a team of scientists and chefs created “The Cooking Lab” where experiments were done to determine the best way to cook a variety of foods.

In the lab, Myhrvold and team had traditional cooking equipment alongside centrifuges, ultrahigh pressure homogenizers, ultrasonic bathes, etc.. The group used the science equipment to test new techniques for cooking a variety of every day foods, such as French Fries, find ways to make new foods, such as pea butter, and determine the best temperature and times for cooking different foods.

Myhrvold and team make it clear that physics and science play a key role in the art of cooking. Temperature, pressure, and classical dynamics all can be linked to the equipment and techniques that Myhrvold et al. employed to create masterful food.

Here is the link to the article (and the picture below):

Friday, August 26, 2011

Welcome to Fall 2011

Welcome to the Physics 111 blog! In this blog, Colgate University's Fundamental Physics I (Physics 111) students will be posting short summaries/descriptions relating news, art, music, etc. to physics. By reading this blog, we hope that you will see that physics is found in all facets of life and is not relegated to projectile motion and spherical cows.